One of the workhorses of the war in Vietnam, Fairchild’s Provider grew from an all-metal assault glider designed by Chase Aircraft in the late 1940s. For those whose memories don’t go back to the ’70s, preserved C-123 Providers starred in Hollywood’s “Air America” and “Con Air.” Yeah, now you remember.
Roden’s new kit brings sighs of relief from 1/72 scale builders who for decades have had only subpar kits of this significant transport. In its first issue, Roden provides the first production version of the Provider. The parts are molded in gray and clear styrene and include decent interior detail for the flight deck and cargo compartments. The landing gear is well detailed; maybe too detailed, as the nose gear strut assembly is complex and wobbly. Since I planned to keep the rear loading doors closed, I left out much of the bulkheads and details from the cargo hold (instructions Step 22). I did add the main floor and wing crossover box to strengthen the fuselage assembly. Before installing it, you may want to scratchbuild a forward bulkhead for the nose gear bay to prevent overspray from swirling through the hollow nose and into the cockpit when you paint the model. Also, the main gear wheels must be added to the wells before the wells are inserted in the fuselage halves. This complicates masking them before painting the airframe.
I was pleased with the overall fit of the parts. The only problems I had were with the engines and cowls. Each bank of cylinders is molded in halves, and the inside faces of these halves are riddled with raised ejector-pin marks that must be clipped off and sanded flush. The exhaust collectors, pipes, and engine accessory pack are realistic, but you’ll not see them again once you assemble the power eggs: All you’re going to see is the forward bank of cylinders, the prop shaft, the crankcase at the front, and the two exhaust pipes at the rear.
The large landing-light covers fit poorly in the leading edges of the wings, and there are no representations of the lenses inside. Instead, I installed a pair of shiny self-stick droplets found in a craft store. Also missing are wingtip navigation lights. I just added tiny blobs of clear red and clear green paint with a toothpick.
The exterior surfaces are a bit rough and could benefit from wet-sanding with 600- and 1200-grit wet-or-dry sandpaper to smooth the skin for the natural-metal paint job. I used Alclad white aluminum over gloss black primer, and accented some panels with dark aluminum.
The decals look good and they worked fine. Those odd “Es” on the fin are actually some sort of antennas. The locations for them are correctly shown in the instruction diagrams, but the kit’s engraved panel for the one on the right side of the fin is incorrectly located. The “91” decals for the nose are about twice the size of the numbers seen in a photo of this Provider in Al Adcock’s C-123 Provider in Action (Squadron ISBN 978-0-89747-276-0).
I put in 38 hours on my Provider — and remember I left out most of the cargo hold detail. It is not a kit for beginners, but experienced builders will enjoy adding an accurate and well-detailed cargo classic to their collection.
Note: A version of this review appeared in the September 2014 FineScale Modeler.